How To Write A Meaningful Tribute

Even for those who write regularly, writer's block is normal in times like these. It is extremely difficult to write the final moments or record of your loved one’s life. It is an emotional process, even more, difficult to announce the death of a loved one. Not only is there so much grief, you also might feel like you are being rushed to do this. However, many find that writing this tribute can be a positive, therapeutic experience and is highly recommended to do.

We hope our guide will give you some insight and help with the challenges of writing your loved one’s tribute and honoring the special life they lived.

Step 1: Assemble Basic Information 

Your memory may not be at its best while grieving so it can be helpful to get your family’s help to remember details of your loved one’s life such as where they were both or where they graduated or received a degree. It may even just help to confirm information so you can accurately tell their story.

Look for basic information such as:

  • Full legal name and nicknames
  • Birthdate and date of death
  • Birthplace
  • City and province of residence at death
  • Name of spouse or significant other
  • Name of their children
  • Names of those that preceded them in death
  • Names of those still alive

Step 2: List Major Interests and Milestones

Make a simple list of their interests, major events in their life, important family moments. Starting from the beginning through to the day they died.

  • Childhood
  • Education
  • Military background
  • Honors and awards
  • Marriage
  • Children
  • Grandchildren
  • Employment
  • Extra-curricular activities
  • Retirements
  • Home life
  • Special pets

Step 3: Look at Obituaries in Your Local Paper or Other Tributes on Our Website

It might help for you to start looking at other tributes to give you an idea on where to start or somewhat of a guideline to follow. Start with basic information and then you can continue with summarizing your loved one’s life.

Step 4: Start Writing

It is completely up to you how much detail you want to go into. You don’t have to worry about length, it’s usually better to write more during your first draft and go back and fix it after.

Don’t forget to add the touching details that made your loved one and their story extra special, interesting tidbits, and anecdotes, something people wouldn’t necessarily know about them. It’s okay to add humour and sharing memories with family and friends gives them something to smile about in these hard times.

You should also include information you need about the date, time and location of your celebration of life or memorial service. If it will be private, you can mention that as well.

Step 5: Be Sensitive About Tough Issues

If there are topics more difficult to talk about such as the cause of death, relationships, identity and family conflicts, you should remember that the most important is what the deceased wanted and what will be less painful for the rest of the loved ones still around. Here are a few situations to consider:

Sexual Identity - It is important to accurately represent the life of your loved one whether that be one sex, gender, or name they associated with and/or made a change to later in their lives. If they were transgender, went by a different name, or used non-gendered pronouns, respect that in your tribute.

Sexual Orientation - It is best to respect the deceased’s wishes in all aspects especially if they wanted to keep their sexual orientation quiet, then it should be left out of the tribute. A tribute is most definitely not the place to share any private information or secrets they may have had. If they were not quiet about it then it shouldn’t be kept a secret, and their partner should be mentioned by name even if it makes some close friends or family members uncomfortable. This tribute is not about the community’s preferences but about your deceased loved ones and what they would have wanted.

Ex-spouses – It is possible the deceased stayed close with their ex or had children together, if so, it is important to include them in the discussion. If they were close and during this time of grief, they were alienated, it could cause a lot more unnecessary pain or hurt.

Suicide or drug overdose – Including the cause of death in the tribute is an extremely personal choice. A death can be twice as hard if the family feels that people will judge or shame the deceased. However, if you choose to include something like this, you could use words such as “chose to end her life” rather than “committed suicide”. Some people write it so that other families in this situation know they are not alone.

Step 6: Avoid Common Mistakes 

This list should help you avoid common mistakes and take a little bit of weight off the task of writing the tribute.

  • Don’t make the tribute about those still living – this is about your loved one.
  • Include information about your loved one’s life, not just the funeral details.
  • Avoid abbreviations or terms that not everyone will understand. 
  • Write in the third person, refer to them by name rather than title such as mom, dad or son, daughter, etc.
  • Consider your loved one’s wishes, not your own.
  • If they loved flowers, let people send them. It’s important to remember that friends and distant relatives are also grieving and sending flowers can help them in that.
  • Don’t request donations for a cause your loved one didn’t support unless it is related to their cause of death such as the Cancer Society or similar organizations.


When you are done writing your first draft, have someone else check for spelling and grammatical errors. Double check the spelling of names and that you didn’t leave out any family members or important details.

Step 8: Delegate

If all of this seems like too much, or you don’t feel like you can do it – delegate! Its okay to delegate, and writing this tribute shouldn’t be an extra weight on your shoulders. If you're not confident in your writing skills or feel too much pressure, you can ask someone else who enjoys writing or is good at it, to write the tribute. You can provide the information necessary and make suggestions while they take notes. Make this easier on yourself. There is no need to feel guilty about delegating these tasks if you’re not up for it. Friends and family are happy to help in times of need.

If you have any questions, contact us.